FITZROY, Lord Charles (1791-1865), of 49 Piccadilly, Mdx.
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Family and Educationb. 28 Feb. 1791, 2nd. s. of George Henry Fitzroy†, 4th duke of Grafton (d. 1844), and Lady Charlotte Maria Waldegrave, da. and coh. of James, 2nd Earl Waldegrave; bro. of Henry Fitzroy, earl of Euston* and Lord James Henry Fitzroy*. educ. Harrow 1802-5; Great Marlow. m. 25 Oct. 1825, Anne, da. of Lord George Augustus Henry Cavendish*, 2s. 2da. d. 17 June 1865.
Ensign 1 Ft. Gds. 1807, lt. 1812, capt. 1812, maj. 1815, lt.-col. 1819; maj. 55 Ft. 1820, half-pay 1821; asst. adj.-gen. at Armagh 1830-2; sold out 1834.
Vice-chamberlain July 1835-Apr. 1838; PC 1 July 1835.
Fitzroy, whose military and political careers and private life were blighted by his compulsive gambling habit, had served with distinction on the Walcheren expedition, in the Peninsula and at Waterloo. He was with the army of occupation in France when he and his elder brother Lord Euston were brought into Parliament in 1818 as the duke of Grafton’s family Members for Thetford and Bury St. Edmunds.1 A silent Whig, he had opposed the coercive legislation introduced after Peterloo, and he was again returned for Thetford at the general election of 1820, when his uncle Lord John Edward Fitzroy replaced Euston at Bury St. Edmunds.2 The failure of his horse Swase to win the 1822 St. Leger completed his financial ruin, and he spent the next two and a half years abroad evading his creditors and his father’s wrath.3 Otherwise, he voted with the main Whig opposition to the Liverpool ministry in most major divisions in the 1820 Parliament and consistently with Hume and the ‘Mountain’ for economy, retrenchment and reduced taxation.4 He backed the 1820-1 parliamentary and extra-parliamentary campaigns on behalf of Queen Caroline.5 He divided for Catholic relief, 28 Feb. 1821, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May 1825, parliamentary reform, 9 May 1821, 13 Apr. 1826, and receipt of the radical Greenhoe reform petition, 3 June 1822. From Florence and Venice in 1823 he expressed concern that his father had gained little by recently promoting the adoption of distress petitions advocating reform in Suffolk, and he welcomed Huskisson’s appointment as president of the board of trade and the government’s defeat on a motion for inquiry into the prosecution of the Dublin Orange rioters, 22 Apr.6 In July 1824 Grafton relented and appointed lawyers to deal with his debts; and when he married in October 1825 Euston made Sholebrooke Lodge in Northamptonshire and the hunting in Salcey Forest available to him until his own heir came of age.7 The Petre estate and interest in Thetford had been sold in 1822 to the financier Alexander Baring*, whose son William Bingham Baring became Fitzroy’s colleague at the general election of 1826.8
He voted for Catholic relief, 6 Mar. 1827, 12 May 1828, to disfranchise Penryn, 28 May 1827, and to repeal the Test Acts, 26 Feb. 1828, and presented Thetford’s petition for repeal of the Malt Act, 29 Feb. 1828. He repeatedly complained that their agreement of 5 June 1827 whereby Grafton underwrote his debts provided he assigned his entire income to him and his father-in-law, the Whig Member for Derbyshire, made parliamentary life unaffordable;9 and his next known vote was on 1 July 1830, when he divided to delay on-consumption under the sale of beer bill. In an attempt to distance him from his gaming associates, Grafton had secured him an Irish posting under Sir Richard Hussey Vivian*, and he stood down at Thetford at the dissolution that month in favour of his younger brother.10
Fitzroy welcomed the appointment of Lord Grey’s ministry and their reform bill. He wrote to the postmaster-general, the duke of Richmond, 5 May 1831, ‘It is as well that the peers should have a certain majority for the bill dinned into their ears, that they may get used to the sound before reality comes before them’.11 His father-in-law joined them in September as a coronation peer (earl of Burlington). By March 1832 Fitzroy had resolved to resign his command to return to England, ostensibly to assist his ailing in-laws at Burlington House.12 Grafton reluctantly acquiesced in the arrangement and financed his election as Liberal Member for Bury St. Edmunds, where he topped the poll in December 1832. He retained the seat until 1847, the first dissolution after his father’s death.13 His appointment as vice-chamberlain in 1835 caused a stir, as did his dismissal in 1838 for voting against the Melbourne government on a slavery issue.14 He failed to avoid bankruptcy and died at his wife’s house, Elm Lodge, Hampton, Middlesex, in June 1865.15
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: Margaret Escott
- 1. Gent. Mag. (1865), ii. 126; Suff. RO (Bury St. Edmunds), Grafton mss HA513/5/147-56; HP Commons, 1790-1820, ii. 295-6; iii. 765-6, 768.
- 2. Bury and Norwich Post, 15 Mar. 1820.
- 3. Grafton mss HA513/5/157-66, 171.
- 4. Ibid. HA513/5/18-121, 156.
- 5. Bury and Norwich Post, 22 Nov., 10 Dec. 1820.
- 6. Grafton mss HA513/5/161, 164, 166.
- 7. Ibid. HA513/5/18a, b, 172.
- 8. Bury and Norwich Post, 14 June 1826.
- 9. Grafton mss HA513/5/19-23, 79, 135.
- 10. Bury and Norwich Post, 28 July, 4 Aug. 1830.
- 11. W. Suss. RO, Goodwood mss 1433, f. 269.
- 12. Grafton mss HA513/5/196.
- 13. Suff. RO Acc 1396/22.
- 14. Grafton mss HA513/5/25-27, 79, 111, 181, 186-8; Raikes Jnl. ii. 142; The Times, 7, 8 Apr. 1838.
- 15. Gent. Mag. (1865), ii. 126; Ipswich Jnl. 24 June 1865.